Japanese Formal Masculine Given Names

by Solveig Throndardottir and the Academy of Saint Gabriel
© 2001

This article contains a list of 2022 masculine nanori recorded before 1601 CE. This list previously appeared in my pamphlet Name Construction in Mediaeval Japan.

A nanori is a given name. Members of the noble class in period Japan used three-part names, consisting of a family name, a yobina, and a nanori. The yobina and nanori are both given names; the nanori was more formal, the yobina the common use name, typically used only by family or intimate acquaintances.

The names in this list are transliterated into Roman characters. Since early Portuguese and Spanish contact with Japan in the sixteenth century, many different ways of transliterating Japanese have been invented. Of these, the Hepburn system is probably the most popular and is largely responsible for the English versions of Japanese place names used outside of Japan. However, this system requires placing a macron (horizontal bar) above certain vowels, which is difficult to type and is often left off. Thus, Tôkyô becomes Tokyo and Kyôto becomes Kyoto. Modern Japanese frequently use another system for writing personal names. Under this system, Itô becomes Itoh and Tôyama becomes Tohyama.

For my pamphlet and this article, I have developed my own system, which generally follows Hepburn except in vowels, which are systematically transcribed from the two Japanese syllabaries. With one exception, I double a vowel to indicate length (duration), so that long i is written ii. The exception is long o, which has two distinct Japanese representations; I write them oo and ou. Thus, Tôkyô is written as Toukyou, Kyôto as Kyouto, and Itô as Itou.

In some cases, more than one Japanese name transliterates to the same representation in our alphabet; the number of duplicates is given after the name. Names are sorted first by the first Roman character of a name's transliteration, and then according to the first character, or mora, in the name. (In the case of names beginning with A, I, O, and U, they are sorted according to the first two mora in the name.) For example, the name Morinaga is listed under Mo on the M page, and the name Atsuyori is under Atsu on the A page.

Names marked with the symbol # contain elements used only by members of the imperial family; they should generally be avoided unless the purpose is to choose a name for such a high-ranking person.

A more thorough discussion of pre-1600 Japanese names, with more complete explanations and better indexing, can be found in my pamphlet Name Construction in Mediaeval Japan, available from The Outlaw Press (Potboiler Press, 1999 [Box 30171, Columbia, MO 65205).

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Edited by Arval Benicoeur and Wendi Dunlap. Published by Arval Benicoeur.